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Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can help)

  1. Dec 21, 2008 #1
    Hello All,
    I'm currently upgrading my homebrew equipment, in order to have more control over the whole brewing process. At this point, I use store bought malt extract (sugars extracted from grains) to create the fermentable liquid that becomes beer, but I would like to start brewing with all grain and perform the sugar extraction process on my own.

    That having been said, what I plan to construct is what is referred to as a lauter tun. It will be a 10 gallon insulate container in which near boiling water is mixed with grain, and the temperature of the water, grain sludge must be temperature controlled. Current options I have to control the temperature are an electric heated rod or a recirculation system with a heat exchange. I decided, after some research, to employ steam heat. Steam heat has advantages over the other options because heat is transferred more quickly and it is cheaper.

    For the container I plan to use a Gott 10 gallon cooler. I plan to use a PID temperature controller with a temperature probe to monitor the temperature of the liquid and control the functions I need to control. To employ steam heat I plan to purchase an electric pressure cooker and fasten plumbing to it which will run through a solenoid gas valve to the lauter tun. The steam will exit through nozzles into the hot liquid. In order to distribute the heat evenly, a motorized stirrer will mix the concoction.

    The problem is I need to have the valve turn off when the liquid has reached its target temperature, the pressure cooker must turn down (but not off), and the motorized stirrer off. When the liquid is too cool, I must have the PID controller turn on the valve so that it opens, turn on the pressure cooker, and turn on the motorized stirrer.

    I 'do not really understand at all how these components will connect and I do not wish to destroy them or myself when connecting them.

    PID- http://auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=3
    Probe- http://auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=55
    Valve- http://www.stcvalve.com/Solenoid_Valve_Specification_2V025.htm
    Pressure Cooker- http://www.target.com/gp/detail.htm...110944&ci_sku=B001AQDAFA&ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001
    Motor- ??

    Could someone tell me what components I will need for this and how to connect them? I will send you a 6-pack of the next beer I brew and I will be extremely grateful. They are outstanding brews by the way!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2008 #2

    brewnog

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    I've done a bit of homebrewing in my time. Not really convinced that steam heat is the way to go, do you have some more detailed justification than heat being transferred more quickly? I don't really see why it's cheaper either, than, say, an electric immersion element in the bottom of the tub (which would very easily be controlled thermostatically).
     
  4. Dec 21, 2008 #3
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Well I want something that transfers heat quickly so that I can do step mashing. I don't know if steam is quick enough, but I thought it would be worth a try.
     
  5. Dec 22, 2008 #4

    dlgoff

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    I have had a little experience with steam generators used for humidity control in environmental chambers. A PID controller was uses to drive a heating element inside a small tank (approx. 1/2 gal.) which generated the steam as needed. The controllers input was from a sensor in the chamber and was set to maintain the proper set-point humidity.

    In your case, you could monitor the temperature of the lauter tun with a thermocouple and control its temperature by turning on a heating element in your steam generator. I would not suggest using a vessel under pressure. Just let the steam mix with the grain.

    My question would be, does it matter how much steam can condensate in with the grain?

    That'll be one six pack.
     
  6. Dec 22, 2008 #5

    dlgoff

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    With a little more thought, could you heat the grain by running the steam through a coil of copper tubing inside the lauter tun?

    Here is a company that make steam generators:
    http://www.reimersinc.com/steam_boilers.htm
    Here is a good place to get temperature equipment technical info:
    http://www.omega.com/temperature/Z/zsection.asp
     
  7. Dec 22, 2008 #6

    Q_Goest

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Hi nicktay,
    Your controller is overkill, and may not even work as you want it. I’d suggest something much simpler such as a temperature switch with display. Something like this:
    http://store.antx.com/digitaltemperatureswitch.aspx

    I can’t vouch for this one, I’ve never used it. But it comes with a temperature probe, a relay to drive the valve, and operates on 110VAC. Seems like everything you need in an easy to use package. I’m sure there are others like it, so you may want to look around.

    The solenoid valve you pointed at isn’t rated for the temperature. It shows a maximum temperature of only 80 C, so don’t even try to use it. I’d suggest an ASCO solenoid valve that’s rated for hot water and steam such as found here:
    http://www.ascovalve.com/Common/PDFFiles/Product/HotWater_SteamR2.pdf

    Regarding the pressure cooker, I don’t think you’ll need any additional controls for that. From looking at it, I have to believe it has a built in temperature and pressure control. When you take steam off, the pressure will drop along with the temperature, but because the pressure drops, the water will boil, so you’ll have some additional steam coming off as the pressure drops. That’s a good thing. When the solenoid valve is closed, the pressure cooker will heat back up automatically (I would think!). So I think you’re set with that. No additional controls needed.

    Note that the pressure cooker also has to have some kind of pressure regulation/relief device on it. So if the controls on the cooker fail, you have a safety mechanism built in.

    Now you’re asking this question on an electrical engineering forum but there’s some thermo and fluid flow you need to be aware of. Pouring that steam into the brew will add roughly 3.6 pounds of water for every kW-hr of heat added. (edit: 3.6 pounds of steam added over an hour's time is the same as a 1 kw heater running for 1 hour) So you may be adding a substantial amount of water to your brew depending on how much heat you need to add and the insulation in your pot. It sounds like you plan on having the water already boiling, so the only heat needed (steam needed) is to make up the evaporation and heat rejected through the walls of your 10 gallon container. If that’s the case, I suspect you'll be ok and there won’t be too much steam (water) added.

    Regarding flow rate, the ASCO with a Cv of .34 is plenty big enough. Too big actually. At 15 psi saturated steam from the pressure cooker and ambient pressure in your mixing vat, and assuming 4 ft of copper tube (1/4” copper with .375” OD) on the inlet and outlet, the flow rate is about 18.5 lb/hr of steam. So rather than doing an uncontrolled ‘burst’ of steam (which may actually splash things around a bit) I’d suggest putting a small globe valve on the inlet or outlet of the solenoid valve so you can modulate the flow. You’ll need to adjust the manual valve to suit your needs.

    Regarding the stirring device, there are all sorts of mixers available. In industry, they’re also called “agitators” so you may want to Google that as well. Take a look about ¾ of the way down on this page for a mixing device that could be connected to a low speed electric drill and mounted above your pot.
    http://www.hobbysilicone.com/supplies.htm
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  8. Dec 23, 2008 #7

    dlgoff

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    "When the solenoid valve is closed, the pressure cooker will heat back up automatically (I would think!)."

    And blow up if the valve fails.
     
  9. Dec 23, 2008 #8
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    I like the ideas. Why would the contraption blow if the valve does not close? There's a pressure regulator on the pressure cooker that I thought would take care of that problem.

    I think direct injection is the fastest transfer of heat and therefore my best option here. I'm also pretty sure that the pressure cooker is the cheapest way to create steam unless there is an inexpensive system I have not seen already.

    One problem I foresee is condensed water in the plumbing which would cause steam to backup and further condense. Is there a way to drain the plumbing of water buildup? If I place the pressure cooker so that the steam and water run downward through the plumbing into the slurry, would that solve my problem? I was thinking about putting a check valve in the plumbing close to the injector so that liquid can't run back through the line.

    If this project gets off the ground and finished I will send a six-pack out for your help. Just send me your address. This lauter tun should be more efficient than what is available for purchase and my final beer product will be produced at a much cheaper price. If I have any more problems I will just post them as they come up.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2008
  10. Dec 23, 2008 #9

    dlgoff

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    I was thinking you might be taking the steam from the "regulator" port. Is it a weight type regulator? If you are using a solenoid valve, when it's closed, the pressure will build up in the cooker. If the valve for some reason doesn't open, the pressure might increase untill the pop-off safety plug pops or the container ruptures. That was my concern.

    What you need is a mechanical steam trap. You can place it just before the lauter tun.
    I would really like to have a tast but we work cheap here. Just let us know how it turns out and that's all the thanks we need.
     
  11. Dec 23, 2008 #10

    Q_Goest

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Hi nicktay,
    Let’s be sure no one gets hurt... I’m assuming there is at least one port on your pressure cooker you can tap off of. If that port has a back pressure regulator or other type of pressure relief device, that device must not be blocked from performing its function. If there’s only 1 port, put a T on that port and connect the pressure relief device to one side, and the tubing run to your solenoid valve to the other.

    Also, I’m assuming the pressure cooker has automatic controls on pressure and temperature. With both controls and pressure relief, you should be fine.

    Yes, that should solve the problem. I’d suggest using small diameter tubing, perhaps made of plastic if you find material rated for that temperature. Using plastic reduces thermal mass when compared to copper or stainless which reduces the resulting condensation inside the tube. Also, keep the tubing as short as possible and running downward so any condensate simply pours into the beer.

    I disagree you need a steam trap. That’s overkill here. There’s no problem with blowing a few drops of boiling water out the end of the tube and into your brew.

    And as for sending out a sample of your brew… I’ll never turn down a hand crafted sample! :smile:
     
  12. Dec 28, 2008 #11
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Thanks! I will let you know how everything goes and get your address then to send some brews. All the help is appreciated.
     
  13. Jan 19, 2009 #12
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    I'm a college student, so it will take me some time to save up the funds to purchase all the necessities to do this project.
     
  14. Apr 13, 2010 #13
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Still working on accumulating the funds, but I'm out of college and now have a job. I'm excited to start this!
     
  15. Apr 13, 2010 #14
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Any tips on where I might find 20-30 gallon food-grade steel cylindrical containers?
     
  16. Apr 15, 2010 #15

    dlgoff

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    I'm getting thirsty just looking at it.
    [​IMG]
    Here's a place that sells used not only Kettles but lots of other Used Food and Beverage Equipment.
     
  17. Apr 17, 2010 #16
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Thanks dlgoff! I have some good options on that end now.

    I've been giving this some thinking, and I was wondering if anyone know of a usb peripheral I could use that would collect data from an electronic thermometer and control power distribution?

    i'm thinking that there has to be some sort of switchboard out there that you can use to send data to your computer (in my case a mac) while running software that can record the data and simultaneously turn on and off solenoids, a steam generator, a motorized stirrer, pumps, etc. This way I could collect and store measurements for each brew and automate the equipment based on parameters or timers.

    Thanks for all the input!
     
  18. Apr 17, 2010 #17

    dlgoff

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    nicktay,

    Now your talking. With good control comes good beer. You can tweak the system for your own taste. Anyway, sounds like a fun project.

    I don't know how much money you are willing to spend, but National Instruments LabVIEW is software that allows on to make graphical interfaces for their Data Acquisition hardware.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LabVIEW

    There are other ways also. I designed a generic system using a smart modem (16 digital IO, 8 analog inputs, 4 analog outputs, 2 accumulator inputs) that interfaced to a serial port (RS232). I first learn the modems uP commands (in order to read switch status, switch relays, measure values, etc.) then I wrote and complied a BASIC program to provide a personal computer MMI (man machine interface). Then it was just a matter of choosing the right sensors for measuring, relays to turn on pumps and operate solenoid valves, and transducers (4-20ma output) to operate control valves etc.
     
  19. Apr 18, 2010 #18
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    Wow, that is absolutely perfect for this project. I wasn't planning to spend too much on the control end originally, but I think that is going to change.

    I'm not an engineer, however, so this is a little foreign to me. I'm sure with a little research I will be able to figure things out, but I would like to know which device to use. Would this work?:

    http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/view/p/lang/en/nid/201630#

    Also, how are the device and instruments, valves connected? Does the DAQ device connect directly to the solenoids and the temperature probe?

    Also, temperature being my number one concern, are there any suggestions you might have on how to take advantage of a DAQ? It seems like there are so many more possibilities incorporating this into my project.

    Also, I'm thinking about employing manufactured sparging nozzles (http://www.s-k.com/pages/pro_04_04.html) instead of making my own. For the life of me I can't find an industrial parts retailer who sells the parts I will need. I am hoping that using manufactured parts will help me avoid too much cleaning and clogging.

    With sparging nozzles, I am a bit lost on a few factors:

    1) psi's required
    2) Number of nozzles
    3) Which configuration to use (as there are a few: a. http://www.s-k.com/pages/pro_04_04_app1.html; b. http://www.s-k.com/pages/pro_04_04_app2.html; c. http://www.s-k.com/pages/pro_04_04_app3.html).

    Also, would an electric pressure cooker work now? I am amping up the size to about 20 to 30 gallons as opposed to 5-10 gallons, so I think I will have to construct my own steam boiler. I would need to fit a closed high pressure container with a heating element, a pressure release valve, and a pressure probe for the DAQ along with outlets. Does this make sense, or is there an easier way to do this?

    Thanks again dlgoff! Hope to hear back!
     
  20. Apr 18, 2010 #19
    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    You don't really need all that fancy electronics for the task at hand. It'll be convenient, for sure, but you can do all-grain with a much simpler setup. Indeed, beer has been brewn long before the invention of solid state electronics.

    I have a homemade lauter tun that cost me around $40 in parts. It consists of a 5-gallon Igloo cooler from Wal-Mart, a simple sparging assembly made of copper tubing with some small transverse holes, and a faucet. The hardest part was to seal all leaks. Step mashing is done by adding measured quantities of water that you boil on the range top. The cooler is sufficiently well insulated for brewing purposes (the mash might cool from 70 C to 68 C in 30 minutes).
     
  21. Apr 19, 2010 #20

    dlgoff

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    Re: Beer brewing thermo-controlled lauter tun (Will send 6-pack to people who can hel

    This digital I/O would work fine for inputting switch statuses (open/closed→I) and closing switches (open/close a relay→O), but not analog signals like temperature. Note, you need the software also and the inputs are expecting 5volt signals. You would have to provide the proper resistors and their data sheet doesn't say how much current the outputs can supply. So I don't think you would be able to drive a solenoid valve directly but maybe with a small relay.

    As above, solenoid valves would need to be driven by a relay since most outputs from a DAQ are small current sources. For the temperature, you're going to have to have an analog I/O like this one.
    http://sine.ni.com/ds/app/doc/p/id/ds-218/lang/en
    I would suggest using a thermocouple with a transducer to provide an analog output to the DAQ. And you would be able to control the temperature with the outputs. Here again you will have to determine what type of driver to use between the output point and the heating device. Maybe a solid state relay SSR.

    All this being said, hamster143 has a good point. You can do it all manually. But if you are trying to learn control system interfacing, this is a good project.
     
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